Quitting Smoking Adds Years To Your Life

My grandfather died from lung cancer. Perhaps if he had never smoked he would have lived another 10 years, as a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found. It sure would have been nice to have another 10 years with my beloved Papa Steve. It also would have been nice to have ten more years with my Uncle Frank who died from lung cancer.

The researchers looked at data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey conducted between 1997 and 2004 on 216,917 adults that were linked to the National Death Index. What they found is that the younger you quit, the more years you add to your life. Smokers who quit at 25 to 34 years old gained 10 years of life. However, even older smokers who quit gain years back. Smokers who quit at 35 to 44 years old gained nine years of life, and those who quit at 45 to 54 years old gained four to six years of life.

Smoking has declined in the U.S. over the last few decades, but it still accounts for close to 200,000 deaths a year in the U.S. for people 35 to 69 years old, about one fourth of all deaths in this age group. That's just too many people dying before their time.

"There’s the old saw that everyone knows smoking is bad for you," wrote Dr. Tim McAfee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in his New York Times blog. "But this paints a much more dramatic picture of the horror of smoking. These are real people that are getting 10 years of life expectancy hacked off — and that’s just on average."

If you are a smoker and are reading this, please, seriously consider quitting. Take it from the loved one of someone who died from lung cancer. Life is a gift we are given, and everyday we have on earth with our family and friends is to be cherished. Quitting will not be easy, but it will come with a reward: better health.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) lists five key factors for quitting with success. Those five factors are:

1. making the decision quit

2. picking a day to quit

3. making a plan

4. dealing with withdrawal, and

5. staying tobacco-free.

I have never been a smoker, but I have heard that the mental withdrawal is the hardest part of quitting.

The ACS also lists ways to deal with mental withdrawal, which include:

  • - Avoiding temptation
  • - Changing your habits
  • - Choosing other things for your mouth such as gum or hard candy
  • - Rewarding yourself.

If you have quit smoking, please leave a comment below about how you quit. Share your main motivation and success story with others who are considering quitting.


Photo credit: Flickr user, Elvert Barnes

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman| January 29, 2013
Categories:  Care

About the Author

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer armed with a passion for healthy living and a degree in journalism. Hailing from the dry, sunny Central San Joaquin Valley, she hasn't let the heat fry her brain!

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